Jerrod Carmichael comes out as gay in new stand-up special

The comedian said his sexuality has put a strain on his relationship with his mother

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Actor/comedian Jerrod Carmichael came out of the closet during a stand-up show in February that was taped as part of an upcoming HBO special. 

As reported by TheWrap, the performance went down at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City, where Carmichael confessed to the crowd that keeping his sexuality secret for so long had deeply affected his personal life.

In his new HBO comedy special titled Rothaniel, Carmichael officially comes out as gay, unpacking a few memorable life moments that led up to his coming out —specifically, when he caught his father cheating on his mother and his father confessed to being an adulterer.

Variety's 5th Annual Power Of Comedy Presented By TBS Benefiting The Noreen Fraser Foundation - Show
Jerrod Carmichael at the 5th annual Power of Comedy on Dec. 11, 2014, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Variety)

“Once that was done, I was left alone feeling like a liar, because I had a secret,” Carmichael said. “One that I had kept from my mother and my father, my family, my friends, and you, all of you. Professionally, personally. And the secret is that I’m gay.”

Carmichael continued, “I never thought I’d come out. I didn’t think I’d ever, ever, ever come out. Probably at many points, I thought I’d rather die than confront the truth of that, to actually say it to people. Because I know it changes people’s — some people — it changes their perception of me. I can’t control that.”

From there, the North Carolina native said he was “raised to be a man — whatever that means,” before joking, “They don’t expect gay babies. You don’t see old ladies looking at a toddler, being like, ‘Oh, look at his cheeks. I bet he’s gonna be a top. Get that baby some PrEP now.'”

Carmichael said coming out strained his relationship with his mother, Cynthia.

“I remember on the call, last time I talked about being gay with my mom, she said, ‘I can’t go against Jesus,’” he said. “And I get it. She’s doing the best she can…I think she’s trying to accept it. Part of me knows she’s at home trying to pray the gay away.”

In his 2019 HBO special Home Videos, Carmichael recalled a conversation he had with his mother when he revealed, “I’ve hooked up with dudes before,” and she replied, “Well, OK, that’s your option. I like men.”  

In the teaser for his new special, Carmichael’s voiceover says, “I’ve been trying to be very honest because my whole life was shrouded in secrets and figured the only route I haven’t tried was the truth.”

Jerrod Carmichael: Rothaniel premieres on HBO April 1 at 9 p.m.

Carmichael will make his Saturday Night Live hosting debut on April 2 with musical guest Gunna.

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